Mayor Nir Barkat is expected to announce on Sunday that he will not be running for a third term. Instead, the mayor will try his hand at national politics with some pundits suggesting that he do well in Likud primaries. It was originally reported that Barkat would leave only if he thought he could replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the head of the Likud. However, it seems that the promise of a significant post that could be eventually converted into the premiership was enough for Barkat.
If Barkat steps aside immediately, the city council would need to appoint a temporary replacement. The council is currently dominated by ultra-Orthodox parties.
With Barkat leaving the race and Meir Turjeman’s legal troubles likely forcing him to drop out, two frontrunners remain. Moshe Lion, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy next week, ran for mayor in the previous election. He has support from ultra-Orthodox circles and held the coveted Community Center Portfolio giving him a familiarity with voters from around the city. Opposing him would be Head of the Opposition Ofer Berkovitch who heads Hitorerut. Hitorerut controlled the Culture and Business portfolios while they remained in the coalition and maintain support in many of Jerusalem’s Zionist neighborhoods. The party should expect to gain voters from both Barkat’s and Turjeman’s camps.
Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch is also said to be thinking about running from the United Torah Judaism party, which could give him much of the ultra-Orthodox vote.
(Header Photo By Amos Ben Gershom Copyright © 2018 National Photo Collection)